*Not all members included

Jean Claude Abeck is a Veteran of the United Air Force. He serves as a consultant in the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, Office of the Undersecretary for African Affairs. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of African Studies at Howard University. He focuses on Africa in World Affairs with a kin research interest in Pan-African Security studies and U.S-Africa security relations. His research investigates emerging security threats, such as the privatization of security, the emergence of Private Military Armies, and the prevalence of unconventional military actors in Africa within the post-1945 international order.

Stephanie Amoako is a Senior Policy Associate at Accountability Counsel where she implements strategies to strengthen accountability mechanisms for human rights harms caused by internationally financed projects. Previously Stephanie was at the Public International Law & Policy Group and supported advocacy for transitional justice mechanisms in South Sudan and the creation of alternative justice mechanisms to address post-election violence in Kenya. Stephanie’s experience includes work with the Research Center on Labor Relations and Inequality and the International Legal Foundation. Stephanie holds degrees from Duke University, Columbia Law School, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, and the University of Amsterdam.

Babikir M. Babikir is an International Development professional with diverse experience in the development and humanitarian sector. His areas of expertise include advocacy, grant management, and fundraising. He has worked in this capacity for various International NGOs in the US, Germany, and Sudan. Additionally, he provides training to civil society organizations in proposal development and communication strategies. Babikir’s educational qualifications include a B.A. in Global Affairs from George Mason University, Virginia. He is fluent in Arabic. In his free time, he enjoys traveling and exploring different international cuisines.

Alem Bekele is a Washington, D.C. native with family from Ethiopia. She attends The George Washington University as a Global MBA candidate and a Forté Fellow. Prior to business school, she worked in the global health development sector with projects in sub-Saharan Africa for five years. Currently, she works with the Business Development team for a tech startup, African Digital Art, where she supports partnership management as the company rolls out a marketplace for African creators to sell their NFTs – building financial inclusion and equity. Alem enjoys collaborating with young professionals in strategizing innovative solutions, driving Africa’s economic growth.

Jason Buchanan is a Program Officer at Freedom House working on projects implemented in West and Southern Africa. Prior to joining Freedom House, he worked in humanitarian relief while based in northeast Nigeria with the International Rescue Committee. He previously worked on programs related to sexual and reproductive health for Ipas and also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda. Jason holds a master’s degree in International Policy and Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He received his B.A. degree from Lewis & Clark College and speaks French, Portuguese, and Spanish and has studied Kinyarwanda and Wolof.

Allison Cole is currently a Technical Officer at FHI 360, where she works on USAID funded projects to support HIV prevention and product introduction and access in sub- Saharan Africa. Prior to working at FHI 360, Allison interned at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Research Branch of the Office of HIV/AIDS. She is passionate about tackling health disparities especially in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. She received a Master of Public Health, in Global Health from New York University, where she spent a semester in Ghana interning in the nutrition department of the University of Ghana-Legon Hospital. It is Allison’s love for travel that has made her so passionate about global health disparities.

Candace Cook is a research assistant at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at National Defense University. She focuses on elections in Africa, good governance, presidential term limits, and democratic transitions. Before joining the Africa Center, she served at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Office of African Affairs, focusing on Central Africa. Candace earned her M.A. in National Security Studies, with a concentration in African security, at California State University, San Bernardino, where she graduated with honors.

Mr. Pa Sako Darboe is a Foreign Service Officer and has joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of The Gambia since 2014. I have occupied several positions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Cadet Administrative Officer (CAO) to First Secretary. Mr. Darboe joined the Embassy of the Republic of The Gambia in Washington, DC 2018. Mr. Darboe has an extensive education background, holding a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Sharda University in India. Mr. Darboe also holds a master’s degree in International Affairs focusing on Conflict and Conflict Resolution with regional concentration on Africa at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. He also holds numerous certificates in the fields of International Relations and Diplomacy.

George Denkey is a tech strategist, working at the intersection of business development and technology. He started his career at Andela, Africa’s pre-eminent edtech unicorn, helping to supercharge the startup’s growth on the African continent by professionalizing their sales and marketing efforts. Through career stays at larger corporations like Dun & Bradstreet post- Andela, he gained a finer understanding of fintech and emerging blockchain technologies. He now works for Stripe and their broader growth team, helping to grow the overall GDP of the Internet. Alongside this, he is a contributor to thoughts on African economic development, African urbanism, and African geopolitics.

Chioma Dike’ Owere is a native Washingtonian, a Howard University honors graduate of political science, and a Master’s degree holder in international relations & human rights from Roehampton University, London. She has trained at the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Italy and is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society. She is also a Harvard Law School LWP Fellow and Rangel Fellowship finalist. Her research on maternal mortality and FGM in Kenya and Libya took her to remote towns where she collected vital data she shared as a subject-matter expert, with US Congress, CDC, the White House, and State Dept. directly influencing policy and legislation on harmful traditional practices. She worked at USAID on gender program integration, after which she became a public and private consulting analyst on GBV prevention and women’s affairs in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA regions and a featured op-ed Gender Politics columnist for Guardian Newspaper Nigeria. She has worked in multiple geopolitical regions including South Africa, Italy, Libya, UAE, UK, Kenya, Nigeria on issues such as human trafficking, poverty alleviation, emergency humanitarian mobilization, economic empowerment, and community development. Her main career focus is the advancement of gender equality in international development and program implementation through innovative strategies. Chioma’s interests include history, art and reading African literature and nonfiction (climate change, food security and international trade).

Mark Duerksen is a Research Associate and the Strategic Communications Manager at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. There, his writing and analysis focus on Nigeria, urbanization, the COVID pandemic, and disinformation trends. Trained in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and graphic design, he works to make developments in African affairs more accessible to policymakers through analytic infographics, mapping, and the curation of a daily media review. Mark holds a Ph.D. in African History from Harvard University and a B.A. in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia. His research examines histories and present-day possibilities of African urbanism. He has published work on the history of housing and ecology in Lagos, Nigeria and the history of Uganda’s independence monuments.

Welela Karageorgiou is an agriculture and food security programming specialist. Welela works at Chemonics International Inc. based in Washington D.C. where she serves as a Program Manager for the $135 million USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) project. She has experience managing and implementing projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, including field experience in Burundi, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Niger. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Global Politics from California State University of Los Angeles and is fluent in French, Amharic, and English.

Mahir Khan is a Public Health Advisor at USAID focusing on COVID-19 vaccinations in sub-Saharan Africa. Mahir began his career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana, serving as an HIV capacity building specialist. After service, Mahir joined Peace Corps’ Office of Global Health & HIV where he focused on PEPFAR activities, and later as a Country Desk Officer supporting the Peace Corps programs in Armenia, Georgia, and the Kyrgyz Republic. Mahir earned a Master’s in Public Health and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Missouri and is passionate about improving health outcomes around the world.

Morgan Limo is a Foreign Service Officer currently at USAID/Uganda. Here, she guides strategic planning, design, monitoring, and evaluation for U.S. foreign assistance programs in health, democracy and governance, education, and economic growth. She has worked extensively in Africa including Guinea, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Morgan holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Princeton University. She is a published author, board member at Cross World Africa, and International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) fellow.

Linnet Mbogo is an analyst at the International Monetary Fund and focuses on macroeconomics surveillance and research on economic development in African countries. Her interests are in education, climate change and applying data science in public policy and social good. Previously, Linnet held positions at the World Bank Group and American University. Linnet earned her master’s degree in Economics from American University after working in East Africa. She graduated from Hillsdale College with a bachelor’s degree with honors in Mathematics and Economics. Outside work, Linnet enjoys hiking, playing chess and podcasts. She is fluent in Swahili and speaks beginner French.

Catherine Nzuki is a research associate for the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She was previously a research assistant for the Project on Fragility and Mobility in the CSIS International Security Program. In this role, her research areas included state fragility, migration and mobility, conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and strategic foresight. Prior to joining CSIS, she was an intern with No Isolation, a Norwegian tech start-up, in their London office. She also interned with Oxford Analytica, a geopolitical analysis and consulting firm, in New York City. In addition, Catherine was an intern with the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce, a women’s economic empowerment nongovernmental organization in Dar es Salaam. She holds a BA in politics with a minor in philosophy from Bates College. Catherine is Tanzanian and has lived in Eswatini, Oman, and the United Kingdom.

Joel Okwemba is an intellectual and practitioner of diplomacy, with strong interests in Multilateral Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy and Strategic Geo-politics. In his dynamic professional experience, he has worked for and with Governments, United Nations Agencies, Intergovernmental Organizations, Diplomatic Missions, Private Sector, Philanthropy, Academia, and Think-Tanks. He is the founding member of The Centre for International and Security Affairs (CISA) - Research and Think Tank, focused on enhancing the peace and security agenda through research, conferences and community outreach programs. He is an incoming Master’s in International Public Policy (MIPP) Student at the school of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)- Johns Hopkins University.

Andree’ Omoregbee is a Senior New Business Associate at Chemonics International, where she provides support to the East and Southern Africa (ESAF) Business Unit. Before joining Chemonics, she interned for former U.S. House of Representative John Barrow (GA-13). While working in Nigeria, she monitored social services, conducted research and evaluations, and facilitated livelihood training for young girls and those impacted by human trafficking in Edo State. In addition, she supported the flagship program of the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) for Young African Leaders. In this capacity, she contributed to Alumni programming and strategic private-sector partnerships.

Jacob Price is the Africa Program Manager for the Center for Civilians in Conflict, spending the majority of his time supporting programming in northeast Nigeria and East Africa. Before joining CIVIC Jacob was part of the International Republican Institute’s Africa team, where he worked on democracy and governance programming in Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. Jacob is a graduate of Georgetown College (2010) and the University of Denver (2013), and lives in Alexandria with his wife Sarah and four pets. He is originally from south-central Kentucky.

Grace Pringle works at the State Department leading peacekeeping policy in the Sahel and Northwest Africa in the Bureau of International Organizations, and previously worked on religious freedom issues in Southern Africa and Latin America. Before joining the Department, Grace worked as a defense fellow for Senator Elizabeth Warren and as a research assistant and course coach for Amb. Wendy Sherman and Amb. Samantha Power. Prior, Grace served with UNICEF Sudan working with parties to armed conflict to end child recruitment, and the UK Mission to the UN negotiating resolutions on human rights, atrocity prevention, Africa, and the Middle East. She holds a BA in Public Health from the University of California- Berkeley and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Miranda Rivers is a program specialist for the program on nonviolent action at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where she conducts applied research on social movements and supports training and education efforts for movements working to advance justice and build sustainable peace. Miranda has previous experience working as a journalist and teaching English as a Second Language. She is currently a PhD student at Howard University, focusing on African Studies. She holds a master’s degree in international relations with a focus on conflict resolution and negotiation from American University’s School of International Service. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Arizona State University.

Emily Sample is a Programs Director at Fund for Peace, where she manages the Human Rights and Business portfolio and provides expertise to early warning/early response projects. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University where her research investigates the nexus of gender, climate change adaption, and mass atrocity prevention. Previously, she has worked as an Associate Director of Education on Genocide at Holocaust Museum Houston and for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Ugandan National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. She earned her M.A. in Human Rights and Genocide Studies from Kingston University London and her B.A. from The College of William and Mary. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and co-founded the Women’s Caucus of Genocide Scholars. Her research spans West Africa, the Great Lakes region, peacebuilding, climate change adaption, environmental justice, gender, and mass atrocity prevention. Her most recent book “Building Peace in America” was published in August 2020.

Kyle Staron is a Program Analyst at the Department of State, where he supports the training and professionalization of African militaries. A Presidential Management Fellow, he recently completed a rotation to the Joint Staff. He previously served as an officer in the US Army with deployments to Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Niger. He earned his master’s degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and his bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy.

Leila Stehlik-Barry has over 12 years’ experience working in the fields of human rights, good governance, transitional justice and peacebuilding, including with the US Institute of Peace; National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; International Budget Partnership; International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Search for Common Ground; European Commission and local civil society organizations in her hometown of Chicago. Her academic and professional experience focuses on how institutions can protect and promote human rights, especially in the Sahel (primarily Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), Eastern Europe and the US.

Brian E. Stout is an intelligence editor with Bogart Associates. He was previously a senior analyst at the Pentagon, a writer for the State Department, an editor at Foreign Policy, and an Africa research specialist for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. In 2017, he briefed the State Department Transition Team on U.S. strategic opportunities, challenges, and security partner needs in Africa. Brian has served on the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders application reader committee since 2016. He holds a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree from Maastricht University, and is currently learning Kiswahili.

Lindsay Swisher is a Public Health Specialist at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), where she started in 2019 as a Presidential Management Fellow. In her role, Lindsay supports the Agency’s flagship global health mechanisms for social and behavior change, with a particular focus on West Africa. Lindsay previously served in Senegal with the US Peace Corps, and has private sector experience conducting marketing for a Fortune 500 company. Lindsay holds a BS in Marketing and International Business from Indiana University and an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She is proficient in both French and Pulaar/Fulani.

Gilles Tagne currently serves as a technical advisor with the United States Agency for International Development overseeing the Agency’s water, sanitation and hygiene portfolio for Nigeria. Gilles previously held consulting roles with UN agencies and iNGOs. He provided expertise with regards to water-related programming, institutional strengthening and policy reform, and capacity building in Sierra Leone, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire. Prior to this, Gilles worked as an Assistant Professor at Wheaton College, and Postdoctoral Researcher at Purdue University. Gilles is passionate about geopolitics and international relations. His dream of pursuing a career in diplomacy is inspired by the work of President Jimmy Carter on dialogue and conflict resolution in the Middle East and by Kofi Annan’s legacy in peacekeeping.

Farha Tahir specializes in democracy and governance in sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on supporting civil society. She began her career as a research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), later working as a project manager for International Interfaith Peace Corps and as a senior program officer at both the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute. Farha also previously served as an Africa analyst for Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World publication and an adjunct fellow with CSIS’s Human Rights Initiative. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

Soazic Elise Wang Sonne is an economist with the Health, Nutrition and Population department of the World Bank in Washington DC supporting projects to strengthen health systems and health financing in Fragile and Conflict Affected countries for a better response to COVID-19. She joined the World Bank in September 2019 through the Young Professional (YP) and was a 2018 UK-DFID/ World Bank Africa fellow on forced displacement analytical research. She is a PhD research fellow in economics and governance from the United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) and holds a double engineering degree in Statistics and Applied economics from ISSEA/CAPESA Paris.

Kelley Whitson joined the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer in 2014. She currently works as the Gender, Entrepreneurship, and Health Officer for the Bureau of African Affairs (AF). Kelley previously worked as a Staff Assistant in the AF Front Office providing support to the Assistant Secretary, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, and the Deputy Assistant Secretaries. She also completed overseas tours in Copenhagen, Denmark and Monterrey, Mexico. Kelley holds a master’s degree in International Development from American University and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Spelman College. She speaks Spanish and Danish.

Amber M. Whittington possesses a decade of experience in the areas of electoral systems strengthening, civic education, Africa policy, workforce development, and Congressional affairs. She joined USAID in 2015. Prior to joining USAID, Amber was a senior staff member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and served in two Member offices. Amber is a Term Member of The Council of Foreign Relations, a 2019 International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) Fellow and recognized as a 2020 Black National Security Next Generation Leader. Amber is a daughter of the Midwest and obtained her master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Wendy Wilson is a Senior Programs Manager at the Fund for Peace, where she coordinates and manages programming around conflict early warning and peacebuilding, responsible business practices, and state resilience and fragility. This includes providing subject matter expertise and technical capacity building on early warning and early response to civil society organizations and sub-regional organizations, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its relevant entities. Wendy holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution in Divided Societies from King’s College London and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Virginia.